The Church of England has reiterated its long-term stance that sex is proper only between a heterosexual man and woman who are married to each other.
The church’s longstanding tenet was included in a pastoral statement about civil partnerships issued this week by the church’s House of Bishops.
The pastoral guidance was prompted by a British supreme court ruling giving heterosexual couples access to such arrangements. Before the recent ruling, civil partnerships were available only to same-sex couples.
According to the Guardian, the pastoral statement concluded that despite the legal ruling, “the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged.”
The statement notes that the Church of England upholds the beliefs that “for Christians, marriage – that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity. In its approach to civil partnerships, the Church seeks to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually-abstinent friendships and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently.”
The statement adds that “Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purpose for human beings.”
The church’s director of mission and public affairs, the Rev. Dr. Malcolm Brown, emphasized the difference between a marriage and a civil partnership saying, “Civil partnership is not the same as marriage, which is founded on the taking of solemn public vows and is recognised in the church’s teaching as the only proper context for sexual relationships.
“So, as with same-sex civil partnerships, there is no formal service or blessing but clergy will, as always, be encouraged to respond pastorally to couples wishing to formalise their relationship in this way,” the Guardian reports.
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Source: Christian Headlines